Thursday, September 30, 2010

Got Mud?

I guess a regular 10K isn't enough of an adventure for Paige. It seems a 10K Mud Run was the challenge she was seeking!

Paige was on a co-ed team of 10 (see teammates in lower photo) who each had to run an entire 10K while navigating through obstacles, detours, and mazes totally surrounded in mud!

Apparently Paige had a great race and loved the course, mud and all! Her picture reminded me of a poem by Tom Mulhern called "The Infrequent Bathing Trilogy."

I. Things Could Have Been Worse (And Were)

Back in the day, when I was a lad
We used to bathe once a week
Which improved upon the youth of my Dad
When he claims they bathed in the creek.

II. Limited Advantage

The best thing about bathing just once a week
Is that you rarely had to wash and hang clothes
The bad part is that when you started to reek
You needed the clothespins for your nose.

III. And The Last Shall Be . . . Still Dirty

I know we were frugal and yes, times were tough
But one thing I found hard to bear
As if bathing once a week wasn't bad enough
The same water we all had to share.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Humpty Dumpty Projects...

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king's horses and all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again!"

This Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme came to mind as I undertook 2 projects this week.

First, whenever I'm away but there's family back on the homefront I return and find an interior that needs to be (let see, how can I say this nicely) ...put back together again! But, unlike the king's horses & king's men, this is something I can do! Typically it takes me 1 full day to restore the hearth & home back to the state things were when I left.

The second Humpty Dumpty situation was a great fall (not literally but think disaster) with my laptop! Only this was harder to put back together than my house!

I had worked on an entire weeks worth of Seminary lessons putting everything on slides in a keynote presentation. Then, in a tired stupor I didn't save anything! Yikes! Worse, I didn't realize my error until I arrived to teach, opened the presentation and all the new slides were missing (deleted, gone, vaporized)!

So, I had to wing class on Tuesday but then spent the bulk of yesterday recreating those same slides all over again. So frustrating! Although, at least both projects were things that COULD be put back together, unlike poor Humpty Dumpty!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All Good Things...

Well, the 2010 NYC Girl's Trip is history! Another successful year! More good memories!

I'm grateful to have female friendships where I am inspired and motivated by the examples of other women.

This travel group pits me as the youngest in our bunch, but in contrast, I'm the old lady with several of my running friends. Still, in both situations, I learn a lot from listening and from observing.

I titled this post "All Good Things" (must come to an end) since our trip is officially over but the happy memories do live on. So, Shakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well" sentiment is probably more fitting at the culmination of any fun vacation!

To wrap up my travelogue it should be noted that I wore all the clothes in my suitcase! Every last item! Which indicates improved skills on precision packing! I used to smash way more than I needed into my luggage "just in case." So I've definitely gotten better at streamlining my travel wardrobe. Plus, the warm weather made it easier to pack light!

"Travel is glamorous only in retrospect." -Paul Theroux

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Great Park in a Great City!

There is a nostalgia for me about running in Central Park.

In 1981 there was the famous Simon and Garfunkel Concert in Central Park which we didn't attend but I played the CD (okay, tape & album actually) nonstop for years! In 1982 Brent ran his first New York City Marathon.

Over the years, Brent and I have both spent mornings of many NYC trips running through the park. The lower loop feels totally safe and joining the other runners, bikers, and rollerbladers, it almost feels like coming home.

Besides running memories, Central Park also reminds me of taking our kids to the Public Theatre to see celebrity actors perform Shakespeare or to eat at Tavern on the Green.

The New York LDS Temple is just on the west side of the park at 65th across from the Lincoln Center. We've attended the Manhattan Wards in this church building many times over the years. Again, it almost feels like coming home.

Yesterday, in Sacrament meeting they released one bishopric and sustained another in the Manhattan 1st Ward. It was touching to hear this humble outgoing Bishop speak of his love and gratitude of the members and then the incoming Bishop share his tender testimony of the gospel. Without knowing either of these men I could still sense their goodness and sincerity.

Sunday morning I ran in Central Park then showered and headed to church. By noon I had the distinct feeling that for traveling it doesn't get more comfortable and comforting! You can be in a city like New York with 9 million people and still feel right at home with a great ward and a great park!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lasting Impressions...

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." -Pat Conroy

Sometimes with travel an anticipated event will lack luster and an unexpected surprise will be a hit of the trip! One of the coolest serendipitious trip sights was an exhibit currently displayed on the Roof Garden of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Big Bamboo" was constructed by twin brothers Mike and Doug Stern. They've attached huge bamboo poles into an intricate structure that you can walk through pathways and meander around a lower level maze. Looking out from the bamboo you overlook Central Park. It was amazing. Kind of a quirky project like "The Gates" in Central Park several years ago. Big Bamboo didn't get all the hype of The Gates but it's very cool!

Besides the fascinating tour of Sotheby's and the Lehman Art Auction yesterday we went to Little Italy right during a festival and full processional. Then, onto SoHo and visiting Abby's cute new apartment on West Broadway. How dangerous would it be to live 2 doors away from an Anthropologie store?

Greenwich Village was next. Carole lived in Greenwich Village years ago so she fills us in on famous writers who've lived in the village. We kept walking all the way down Bleeker Street through the West Village to the new High Line Park walkway that leads all the way to Chelsea.

Our play tickets last night were for a show by Nora and Delia Ephron called "Love, Loss, and What I Wore." It was a perfect show for women; clever vignettes on women & their shoes, their handbags, their relationships and their clothes! Funny and poignant! We all loved it!

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen." -Benjamin Disraeli

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Uptown Girls!

Yes, the traveling girls are really stepping it up a notch! Today Carole's connections have scored us a real treat. We're getting an inside tour of the Sotheby's Auction House, thanks to Seth's friend, Warren.

It just happens that today is also the day they'll be auctioning the Lehman Brothers Corporate Art Collection. So after our tour we've been invited to stay and participate in the bidding. Our husbands might be wise to put a block on our credit card use!

One of my favorites in the collection is Mark Grotjahn's, Three-Tiered Perspective (partially shown at left). Unfortunately, they expect this to sell for at least 600K so I don't think I'll be bringing this piece home! My credit card must have a limit and I'm sure it is well below the value of this painting!

Yesterday we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Gallery, then headed midtown to Union Square and Madison Square and finally caught another Broadway musical, "Promises, Promises." It's a remake of an old play by Neil Simon with Burt Bacharach music starring Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked) and Sean Hayes (Will & Grace).

We're averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep most nights but no one is complaining!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Big Apple...

"Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in it's setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear.

Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art." -Freya Stark

New York City thrills me in the same way as art I love! I am delighted to be back! I love the energy of this place!

Last night we saw "Into The Heights," our first Broadway show of the trip. It's a great musical. Then Abby (Carole's daughter) suggested the Brooklyn Diner for great Noodle Kugel and when she said it would be a long walk I realized that for me nothing in New York is ever a long walk. I could walk around The Big Apple all day and never get tired of taking in the sights, the sounds, and the people!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Philadelphia Freedom, Shine on Me....

"In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?" -Mark Twain

Back in the day (say, the 18th century) Philadelphia was all the rage! Status and prominence! This was the largest city and the social center of the 13 colonies. And, before the revolution Philadelphia was the 2nd largest city in the British Empire (after London).

I could spout off all kinds of Philadelphia Trivia since we even rode the Double Deck Bus yesterday looking like goofy tourists. But it's not a bad way to get the "lay of the land."

Of course, there is nothing quite as helpful in a new city as a morning run. When I'm out running in new cities my pace is horrendously slow (even slower than my old-age pace) but it's the perfect way to get a general overview.

Yesterday we saw the Philadelphia Museum of Arts, the Perleman Museum, the Rodin Museum and in between all the museums we covered plenty of the Philly historical sights.

For today's activities Carole secured tickets to the Barnes Foundation! Score! In fact, visiting the Barnes was the impetus for starting our week in Philadelphia. We felt like we should see the gallery in it's original setting before the entire collection is moved in 2012.

By the afternoon, we should be back in my old favorite: "N.Y.C., What is it about you?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Philly...The City of Brotherly Love

"Traveling and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." -Seneca

Philadelphia conjures up thoughts of Rocky Balboa, the Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin, and famous Cheesesteak sandwiches!

The "City of Brotherly Love" isn't just a nickname, it's a literal Greek translation ("philos," meaning "love" and "delphos," meaning "brother"). William Penn (as in Pennsylvania) came up with the city name.

Our hotel is right in the heart of the City Center and the area feels thick with revolutionary history. Today we're mainly focused on seeing the traditional tourist sites. The weather is awesome; warm and gorgeous! It's hard to go wrong with weather like this in September!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Adventure Begins....

"There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it." -Charles Dudley Warner

The itinerary Susan Romney puts together for our annual girl's excursions billed this trip as number 18! It's amazing that our eclectic group of 5 has traveled every fall consecutively for 18 years.

The trip logistics have even fallen into a nice routine. Each of us has different (and mostly self imposed) assignments that we hone in on during the planning.

Ann Williams is our official driver which includes handling our rental car reservations. Ann's claim to fame is that at age 50-something she has never been in an accident nor has she had a traffic citation. Unheard of! So, we're happy to trust in Ann's abilities to get us safely wherever we want to go. Interestingly, Ann does not drive slow and she isn't particularly cautious which makes the fact she's had no tickets even harder to believe! We've decided that Ann has full time guardian angels watching over her as she speeds around town!

Carole Beal is our culture queen! Carole also lived on the East Coast the longest (between the years they were at Yale Law School and with a law firm in New York) and Carole currently has 2 daughters living in New York. So, Carole is always in-the-know the about new Broadway shows, the latest art exhibitions, and the hot restaurants! Carole's our wealth of information! And literary guru no less!

Susan Romney is our R&D (research and development) specialist. Before our trip Susan emails weather information and reminders about what attire to bring. Will we need a coat? A dress for church? Check with Susan. During the trip Susan makes a pretty good Mom; making sure we've thought through all the logistics of the day, etc. Technically we rotate who is the Mom each day but I'm partial to Susan - she's our most responsible Mom!

Julie Larson is like bringing along a free therapist! Julie's husband, Kerry, is truly a therapist and Julie has gleaned so much insight from Kerry that we can pretty much count on Julie to solve all of our problems. And all of our husband's problems. And all of our kid's problems. Etc.! Quite seriously, Julie is a great friend to shop talk ideas with! Furthermore, Julie is always willing to wait for someone or go without or be the odd man out. Julie's got a big heart!

I'm the baby of the group; the only one who isn't a Grandmother! I'm also the only fool willing to get up early and take off on a run before we start the day. So, I've become the official Scout! My morning runs might involve searching out a good place for breakfast, or where the closest drugstore might be, or what time the box office opens. During the day I'm the designated person if we need someone to run ahead and get in line or rundown/hail a taxi. Maybe because I don't have grandchildren (yet) they seem to think I have more energy and stamina. Or maybe I just drive them nuts with my adrenaline rush of seeing new sights!

We've taken so many trips together that we've gotten into a smooth rhythm. Susan can be counted on to bring a camera and she forces us to write in a journal. Ann takes a bath every single night! Carole remembers books and movies in great detail. Julie is always willing to compromise. I keep us on-the-go. For 6 days every fall we become a family of sorts; starting every morning with a group prayer and then we're off...seeking new horizons!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dumb Luck...

"Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do, and I gave the common-sensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage." Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem isn't quite right because to some degree marriage is a bit of a gamble for all of us, women AND men alike! And, while I absolutely believe in being prayerful about selecting a husband, I also have to concede that I was pretty darn lucky! Dumb, young luck! Honestly, I was pretty clueless!

So, tomorrow I leave for my annual fall girls trip, heading to the East Coast and I am SO LUCKY that Brent has always supported this adventure. Brent's been great to encourage me to go and have a great time, and all at the expense of me basically abandoning him for a week! So he's a good sport and I'm appreciative of his generous trip sponsorship!

All 5 traveling wives recognize that our ability to galavant off to the theatre and art museums is possible because we all married well (and by well I don't mean financially). We should dedicate our trips to George, Jerry, Kerry and the 2 Brents (Brent Romney & Brent Knudsen). These good guys have supported us every year and several trips have even fallen during George and Carole's wedding anniversary so George really gets a gold star!

Hopefully these stellar husbands realize that we speak often and highly about them during our escapades! We all feel grateful and blessed that so far they keep letting us traipse off and leave them home to fend for themselves! So, if marriage is a bit of a gamble, we all think we won the lottery! A Toast to Wonderful Husbands!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Page About Paige!

Happy Birthday To Paige! (enjoying her shaved ice in Hawaii)

Since Paige's birthday falls on a Sunday my "page about Paige" is a little more serious minded. Not boring, mind you, but a Sunday birthday seems like a good day to mention some things I admire about our youngest daughter. Forever, and always, the Knudsen Baby!

First and foremost, Paige is spiritually mature. She always has been. Paige gravitates toward goodness; good people and good things.

Because of Paige's natural inclination to wholesomeness, she selects quality friends. And, Paige is a good friend! I love seeing Paige write regular letters (and even send care packages) to her friends serving missions. She's thoughtful and genuinely cares about her friends. And Paige's diligence in maintaining good friendships has resulted in having friends who help her maintain her high standards (and vice versa).

Paige seems blessed with a strong desire to be her very best self. She doesn't really have the time or patience to waste effort or energy on things that don't help her improve either physically, academically or spiritually. I've watched Paige plan her time by the day, by the week, or by her ongoing "to do" lists. She's organized in a thoughtful way, making sure she fits in the important things.

Lest Paige think she is like the Mary Poppin's quote ("practically perfect in every way!"), I will note one area that we are still tutoring Paige's skill set: her "Paigese!" "Paigese," is a dialect understood by some peers but completely lost on the parentals. Paige thinks her speech is completely reasonable but sometimes it sounds like a mix between a foreign language and jibberish!

Happily, Paige will probably outgrow the "Paigese" but we certainly hope she'll never outgrow all her wonderful qualities and her good nature!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Appearance versus Reality...

For the record, and for the most part, I disagree with the quote at left! While it is important to be your very best self I think our culture puts way too much emphasis on appearance and what is considered attractive.

I think societies that spend all their energy focused on the outer package and too little on what's inside end up with people who are very superficial. I suppose I could interpret the slogan differently; "desirable" meant in purely a wholesome sense perhaps. But it's tit for tat, and I could get into semantics but I simply prefer authenticity to people who brand, market & package themselves by focusing exclusively on appearance.

There is another saying: "I've never seen a smiling face that isn't beautiful!" Now, there is a quote that I like! How about looking desirable because you have a countenance that radiates?

Or, think about the insight behind the following quote: "That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful." -Ninon de L'Enclos

And, finally, an old classic, a saying that Andie and I have come to call the "Kathy Pulley Quote," mostly since it's one of Kathy's favorites: "You'll Worry Less About What People Think About You When You Realize How Seldom They Do." -David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Loveliest Loo...

This just in from Reuters....The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City was voted 2nd place for The Best Restrooms in America!

Since Gramps does some of the legal work for Earl Holding, owner of the Grand America, Gramps is going to be quite proud! Especially since Gramps is so darn finicky about germs!

Personally I'd never heard about this illustrious contest but nominations come in from a variety of businesses, hotels, restaurants, and theaters across the nation. 10 finalists are chosen based on hygiene, style, and open access to the public. Finally, the best restroom field is narrowed to the top 5 (almost sounds like a Miss America pageant)!

The Grand American, (1st runner up I suppose) is (I believe) the only 5 star hotel property in Salt Lake. It was built as a showcase hotel for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, and the bathrooms are known for their floor to ceiling commodes, marble countertops, and crystal chandeliers.

The 2010 1st place winner was The Fountain on Locust, a vintage ice cream parlor in St. Louis, Missiouri. Beating out the Grand American will give The Fountain a spot reserved for the winner in the Best Restroom Hall of Fame (yes, apparently there is such a thing).

The award reminds me of the following joke:
Question: What is the most frequently asked question at the Salt Lake Temple Square Visitors Center?
Answer: Where's the bathroom?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"Danger lurks when we divide ourselves with expressions such as "my private life," "my professional life," or even "my best behavior." Living life in separate compartments can lead to internal conflict and exhausting tension...Inner peace comes only as we maintain the integrity of truth in all aspects of our lives. When we covenant to follow the Lord and obey his commandments, we accept his standards in every thought, action, and deed." -Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, November 2000

Elder Nelson's quote puts to words how I often feel when a politician is unfaithful to his wife but still expects his constituency to trust him. If people are dishonest in one aspect of their life I tend to think their character is compromised generally.

People who don't live their lives in separate compartments lead lives of greater integrity. I'm a big fan of the virtue of integrity! To me, it's all encompassing; more than simple honesty. Integrity implies a consistency of character.

I know that I totally fall short of the mark but consciously striving to live with integrity almost guarantees that I'm going to come closer than if integrity is a principle I don't give much thought to. Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hands Free and Still Distracted!

Yes, the state of California allows drivers to talk on their cell phones as long as the device is hands free (bluetooth or headphones).

But, as a terrible multi-tasker, I still question the safety of letting us carry on distracting conversations while behind the wheel. It turns out that I am a potential hazard even behind the wheel of a shopping cart.

Last week I took a call from Paige while shopping at Costco (hands free). I was perusing an endcap display with cool power juicers. So, I chatted with Paige, looked at the appliance, and soon, decided to move along.

When I reached the next aisle I finished our call and stopped to drop Ziploc bags into my cart. Sudden confusion...another customer was annoyed with me and claimed I had her shopping cart. What? ...But then I glanced down at the cart I was pushing and found it filled with wine, cheese, and products I did not recognize.

Apparently while focused on my phone call, I wandered away from the juicer display taking another woman's shopping cart with me! I was embarrassed and profusely apologetic. The woman softened but still got the heck away from me as fast as she could!

If I can wheel away someone else's cart filled with alcohol at Costco and carry on with my shopping simply because I'm distracted by a phone call, well, it is a little scary to think what I could do behind the wheel of a car!

I've also noticed that if I'm talking on my cell when I arrive at Costco I can leave the warehouse and have no idea where I've parked the Volvo! Costco and phone calls are simply not a good mix for me! Which begs the question: Are phone calls and driving a dangerous combo too?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Topless Bar...

A group of runners were in the kitchen after last Saturday's 10 miler talking about the youth baptism trip to the temple the night before. A long-standing tradition the kids always like is stopping for dinner at In & Out on the way home from Oakland.

So, Brent was asking Maria Walton why she and Jeremy hadn't stopped at In & Out with the youth and Maria said that they went to a "Tapa's Bar" instead.

Only what Brent heard was "Topless Bar" and he shouted at Maria "You guys stopped at a topless bar after the temple?"

The way Brent questioned Maria it almost sounded like "it's one thing to go to a topless bar but to go to a topless bar ON YOUR WAY HOME FROM THE TEMPLE!" Whoa, Nelly!

So, we laughed about that for the rest of the weekend! Infact, I don't think we'll ever have tapas served where we don't reminisce about the funny miscommunication!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anger Kills!

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel of both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back - in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you." -Frederick Buechner

I like this quote. The emotion of anger is chiefly an issue of being unforgiving. At someone, or something, or both. Indeed, when I can't "let something go" the person it hurts the most is definitely myself. I've seen this in others but I've also seen it (I'm sorry to say) in myself.

Even when I recognize that I am hurting myself by hanging onto wounds, I still cling! That is the part that makes no sense but Buechner's quote does illuminate why we cling to our hurts so tightly. Subconsciously I guess we all like to wallow in our pain a little.

Truly one of my pet peeves is people who hold a grudges. When I'm privy to witness it, it seems silly and immature. "Why can't they just move on," I'll wonder. But, when it is my very own grudge to hold I'm as vigilant as the next guy about relinquishing my grasp. The irony of my behavior is not lost on me. Thankfully I don't get angry very easily so perhaps that's my saving grace while I'm working on being more forgiving generally!

"Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits. -Hannah More, English religious writer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Los Gatos Luau....

The Los Gatos Ward had it's annual New Member/Ward Council gathering last night. The invitations called it a "Luau" but I took the theme pretty loosely.

I wasn't in charge of decorations but the party was at our house. And since no one was assigned to decorate my last minute attempts at Hawaiian decor weren't that impressive.

The new members, however, were an impressive bunch! Some fun young couples and families! And, technically speaking, some are new to Los Gatos (but long time church members) while some are new to the church (but long time Los Gatos residents). Either which way, they are new to the LG Ward.

The Ward Council is made up of all the organizational presidents and their spouses. In total the gathering had about 35-40 people including a few adorable babies. You can never have too many babies in the ward! Especially the cute babies!

The "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" premise totally comes into play at a church function like last night's party. Between missions or church schools or dating or Utah it only takes a few steps to find a common connection with another person. If I'm actively looking for the Six Degrees I'm amazed how quickly I find them.

Last night my strategy was more linking new people to the old by looking for shared interests. X plays tennis and so does Y. Or, Y's new husband speaks Portuguese and X served a mission in Brazil. X is looking for a job in nursing and Y is employed at the hospital.

Sometimes I forego the whole battery of questions and cut right to the chase. For instance if X has a cute baby and Y (okay, Y is me) likes cute babies, I can simply get right to the point: "Excuse me, you have a cute baby and I like cute babies: Can I hold your cute baby?"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

No Greater Joy?

"I can think of no greater joy than inviting your family into my kitchen." -Sukhi Singh

The quote above adorns the box of Samosa's in our freezer! No greater joy? Really? You've gotta love the absurdity of some advertising!

These companies need to learn that I take things very literally! Sukhi's face looks completely sincere but I still don't buy it. All the Knudsens dining in her kitchen would bring her the greatest joy ever? Frankly, I can almost promise Sukhi that our table manners would annoy her! The joy might come upon our departure!

I'm guessing Sukhi is an Indian version of Betty Crocker. And, the thing is, when I learned that Betty Crocker wasn't real it was like finding out there is no Santa Claus!

I'm not the brightest bulb but I do understand that there isn't really a Pillsbury Dough Boy; some advertising personas are easy to spot as fictional! But Betty Crocker was practically the Oprah for my Mom's generation of housewives. Betty was the homemaking expert! Betty Crocker was an icon!

So, I've finally come to terms with the disappointing information that Betty was just a man-made character! A gimmick! I've finally worked through this betrayal of sorts and, bada bing, Sukhi comes along making promises she isn't likely to keep!

Until I can ascertain Sukhi's validity, for now we'll just enjoy her samosas in our own kitchen!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Archie & Addie!

"Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty - they merely move it from their faces into their hearts." -Martin Buxbaum

It isn't only cute little kids that I get obsessed over! Sometimes I think the geriatric crowd is pretty adorable too!

It's just that I can't really invite the "seniors" over for "playdates." Or maybe I can, but I haven't really dared to yet!

This picture is of Archie & Addie Jensen at the 4th of July Flag Raising Breakfast. Don't they look like the cutest patriotic couple?

Brent and I have admired the Jensens for years. Addie is a great pianist who can't play as effortlessly as she once did but Addie is a talented woman. And she's modest and humble, two traits I find quite likable!

Then, there is Archie. Archie is a absolute saint! Seriously! Most people in the Los Gatos Ward will never know how much service Archie has done over the years because he does it so quietly.

I worked with Archie the past few years when I was in charge of scheduling the building. Archie took care of the building like it was solely HIS responsibility. Which is entirely self imposed simply because he is such a good man! If I ever had questions about anything inside or out, Archie was the man to ask!

Any emergency issues from broken sprinklers to broken windows or electrical problems, Archie was the go-to guy. He never looked for credit and he never got paid for all his endless service. But I've definitely noticed and I've learned something from watching Archie. Since he always pitched in with a smile on his face Archie reinforced my belief that service-oriented people are the happiest people! That's an invaluable lesson so I'm grateful for the Saint Archie's of the world who've taught me by their examples!

Archie and Addie have both had some significant health issues of late. It's inhibited some of their stamina but not their sweet dispositions. I'm fortunate to know so many good people, young and old alike, who remind me what matters the most!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In A Word...

Webb is quite the wordsmith! So, it was no surprise to receive an email from Webb about an annual list the New York Times publishes of the 50 most frequently looked up words from their articles.

Besides sending the link, Webb took the Top 50 List one step further. Webb stated: "In the spirit of continuing my education post-college, I decided to put together a document of all the words with their pronunciations and's always good to learn some new words!"

As a like-minded lover of words, I immediately printed Webb's document and I've finally mastered my new vocabulary list. I'm feeling quite educated!

There were a few easy words that I already know and use like "apostate," "overhaul," and "ubiquitous." Then, there were words that I don't personally use much but I do know their meanings like "egregious," "feckless," and "apoplectic." Although I've really should overhaul my speech and toss out more big words now and then!

One word, "renminbi," I had recently learned from an money article in the Wall Street Journal. Renminbi is the currency in China.

Another word, "baldenfreude," is a twist or close cousin to the lovely term "schadenfreude." Baldenfreude is satisfaction at someone else's baldness!

The word "antediluvian" refers to the period before the flood in Genesis so it means old fashioned, out of date, or primitive.

I hope Webb will continue to enrich my vocabulary by forwarding more New York Times lists, etc. My AP English teacher, Dr. Scanlan, would be so proud that we're looking up words just for fun!

For my self imposed homework, here is a sentence using 6 of the 50 words from Webb's list (fwiw): "While it may be putative, it would be an egregious error to refer to your mother as antediluvian; an incendiary remark like this could cause your obdurate mother to become apoplectic."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Try, Try Again!

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

"Sajeonogi" is a Korean phrase that was popularized when lightweight boxer, Hong Su-hwan, was floored 4 times before he knocked out his opponent and won the World Boxing championship. So "Sajeonogi" has become a Korean national mantra on resolve that means "Knocked down four times, rise up five."

I loved an article last week in the New York Times about a 69 year old woman, Cha Sa-Soon, from South Korea, who has given new meaning to the "Sajeonogi" phrase. After failing her driver's examination hundreds of times, finally, on the 960th try, Cha passed the test! 960 tries! (960 is not a typo)!

Cha's tenacious persistence has made her into a national celebrity of sorts! After a life of poverty, her husband had died, she'd raised 4 children and Cha decided she'd like to learn to drive to be able to take her grandchildren to the zoo.

So, in 2005 she started taking the written driving test every day, five days a week. One of the instructors said: "It drove you crazy to teach her, but we could not get mad at her. She was always cheerful."

When Cha finally did pass, one of her driving teachers noted that perhaps Ms. Cha should "content herself with simply getting the license and not endangering others on the road by actually driving!"

Cha's son said: "Mother has lived a hard life, selling vegetables door to door and working other people's farms. Maybe that made her stubborn. If she puts her mind to something, no one can argue her out of it."

I loved reading about Cha's perseverance! It's beyond what most of us would consider normal behavior but it's inspiring! Anytime I whine about my failures someone in my family should remind me about Cha-Sa-Soon. If nothing else, it'll give me better perspective!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day of Labor!

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it." -John Ruskin

Sometimes Labor Day means picnics, BBQ's, or a day at the beach but yesterday's Labor Day was literal for Brent and I! We labored throughout the day!

Actually it started with a lululemon half marathon race that Brent entered and Andie and I just ran parts of the course for training. It was a low key and fun race, I think I'll officially sign up next year.

So, post race we'd decided to tackle some home projects that always get put aside for "another day." Labor Day seemed as good a day as any to take on those tasks we keep avoiding! We even scheduled the "Got Junk" folks to come at 5 pm which gave us a deadline to get our debris collected!

"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds." -Will Rogers

And it turns out that hunkering down and working hard can be every bit as fun as the beach (no traffic to contend with, no parking frustrations, no crowds, no sunburns). Plus, at the end of the day, you've got a few things checked off the "To Do" list! Which is always a good feeling; okay, maybe even a great feeling!

"This is the real secret of life - to be completely
engaged with what you are doing in the here and now.
And instead of calling it work, realize it is play." -Alan Watts, Work as Play

Monday, September 6, 2010

The glory of friendship...

"We are going to be the best of friends," said Gilbert jubilantly.
"We were born to be good friends, Anne." -Anne of Green Gables

Yesterday (September 5th) was my dear friend, Linda Dunn's birthday. I'm so fortunate to have a friend like Linda in my life; everyone should have a friend like Linda!

Linda (back row, brown turtleneck) is behind me and to the left in this photo of high school girlfriends reuniting in 2009; the year we'd all be turning 50. I adore the whole crew; we'd like to think we are 51 going on 25!

Linda and I met in 7th grade. It's remarkable to look back and see the influence she's had on my life. Linda loved (craved actually) adventure! In junior high we'd ride our bikes to go rope swinging at Rotary Glen near Hogle Zoo and it felt just dangerous enough to think we were pretty cool!

Before we could drive we still felt pretty independent because we'd take the bus (no parental supervision required) to downtown Salt Lake for shopping and movies. We'd hike, we'd bike, we'd swim and somehow our escapades often became a little edgy (meaning we'd get lost or find harmless trouble to get into).

I felt like I'd found a soul mate in Linda. I'd join her family on trips to Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge and she'd come with me to our ranch near Jackson Hole. I never tired of being with Linda. I just remember feeling very lucky!

Forty years later I still feel lucky! However, it was likely more than just "luck" involved; some very good fortune for me and our own dogged determination to "stay in touch." We've stayed close and now even my kids have been blessed by knowing Linda and her darling family. During all our years of adventures and happy times, I'm proud that through all the memories we were "good girls."

It seems like a little thing but I'm really glad that we knew how to have a ton of fun but maintain high standards. It makes me realize how much a good friend will influence us to be our best selves (even for 40 plus years)!

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why Bad Things Happen To Good People...

Our Seminary lesson on The Plan of Salvation felt poignant after the tragic shooting last Sunday of a Bishop in Visalia, California following church services. Bishop Clay Sannar was killed by a mentally ill man who had formerly attended church in the building but did not know Sannar personally.

Bishop Sannar is Melisse Myer's older brother. Melisse and Rob Myers were in our Los Gatos Ward when Andie was in high school. We ran with Melisse and since she lived across from Los Gatos High sometimes we'd run over and wake her up if she didn't show up in the morning! At the time Melisse was newly married, lots of fun, and entertaining to run with. We really missed Rob & Melisse when they moved, first going to Utah then to London and currently they're back in Utah.

Knowing Melisse and realizing she's lost her older brother and looking at this tender family photo of Bishop Sannar with his beautiful wife and 6 darling boys makes the tragedy feel heartbreaking and terribly senseless!

Without an understanding of the gospel, Bishop Sannar's family could feel abandoned by God wondering why would God let this happen. Fortunately Clay and Melisse grew up in a strong and supportive family. Hopefully they'll all help each other through this painful time.

And not to mitigate the tragedy at all, it's horrific and so sad that the youngest boys won't even remember their dad, BUT, we also do believe that this life is not the end! Having faith that their family can be together again could be the balm that brings comfort and peace to the Sannar family.

Melisse spoke at Clay's funeral and noted that her brother "was always something of a family leader, especially after his mission. You just knew he had 'the answer' to any problem, such as which house to buy or the meaning of a Bible passage."

The Sannar family asked everyone to remember the family of the shooter (who was killed later by the police) in their prayers "because they are suffering as well." I thought that showed a lot of class and forgiveness to be able to reach out and extend an olive branch. Even during the Sannar's loss they recognized the pain of the shooter's family.

Bishop Sannar's random murder presented a sad but real life story to share with the youth while we studied the plan of salvation. Tragic things happen. But we knew that they would. I'm grateful for faith that eventually even senseless tragedies will be resolved. Although it still leaves a terrible loss for the Sannar family and the Visalia Ward that lost a new Bishop!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

If it walks like a duck (or squirrel)...

I love the joke where the Primary Teacher asks her students, "What has a bushy tail, runs up trees and stores nuts?" A confused child answers, "I know the answer is Jesus, but it sounds like a squirrel to me."

From Primary days on up I was probably conditioned to rattle off the basic answers. Or, if I wasn't sure where a teacher was going, I felt safe sticking with "Keep the Commandments," "Pray," or "Read my Scriptures" types of answers.

My Seminary youth do the same thing, provide me with the quick and basic answers. Sometimes we chide these responses as simplistic or standard. But, the funny thing is: they are also kind of tried and true.

Brent and I both agree that living those daily basics really does help us personally. It may be simplistic but I generally feel like I can't get too far off track when I'm consistent with doing the "little things" spiritually.

As a Bishop, Brent has observed that in most situations where members struggle with faith or make choices that end up wreaking havoc in their life, he can almost guarantee that they aren't doing the basics. They won't necessarily correlate their problems and issues back to when they stopped reading their scriptures (for instance) but Brent sees it often enough to note the connections.

For me, staying on a good course spiritually is a little like getting in shape. It takes so long to get "in" shape but in no time at all I can get "out" of shape! I can workout consistently for months and then just a couple of days of slacking or eating poorly, and boom, I lose momentum quickly. So, if the simple daily things will benefit me in the long run, both physically and spiritually, then I'm a-okay with simple! Who needs complexity anyway?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Location, Location, Location!

The "location, location, location" adage is famous in Real Estate. And accurate. A property's zip code means a lot more than what's resting on any given site!

Yesterday I discovered the adage to be true when applied to hotel accommodations. Well, I've certainly known this already, but it became very apparent as I spent inordinate chunks of time searching hotels in Philadelphia and New York City! Booking the East Coast hotels is my assignment for our annual girlfriend escapade (which commences 9/21).

The good news is that our hotel bill gets divided 5 ways which makes even $500 rooms seem affordable @ $100 per person. Although I can't get too enticed by that division of expenses since we try to stay on a self-imposed tight budget! Loosely translated, the more we save on our hotel, the more we can spend shopping!

The other good news is that we are splitting the trip between New York and Pennsylvania and hotels are half the price in Philly! Score!

However, the bad news is also two-fold. First, the 2nd half of our trip is in the Big Apple and hotel prices in NYC have skyrocketed! I can't figure out why, but regardless, they are more pricey than I can ever remember for New York. Bummer!

Second, it's always bad news (or make that very tricky) that our traveling group of 5 prefers to stay together in one room. Not just because we're cheap, but more importantly, if we are in 2 different rooms we can't stay up late talking. Well, we can, but half the group would be missing out on enlightening conversation and none of us want to be amongst that half!

Specifically, the 1 room ideal is bad news/problematic because Hotel Management Personnel has conspired against our plans to squish 5 hotel guests into 1 room. The reservation's agents will no longer allow rollaway beds into most rooms with 2 double beds. At least not in the heart of Manhattan. Fire codes, square footage requirements, whatever. Most hotels now have a maximum 4 person per room rule! Darn, foiled again!

Brent's thinks it's a little crazy that we squeeze 5 adult women into 1 hotel room and it looks like the hotel establishment agrees with his assessment! Between online booking attempts and phone call reservations I'm fighting a losing battle to find a posh swanky hotel room that will accommodate ALL 5 of us (on our terms).

Finally, we happen to prefer safe, upscale, convenient locations with easy access to museums. Which, in New York City, it goes without saying that any hotel near The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be exorbitantly priced - just like the Upper East Side real estate.

So, I guess it's just the price we'll have to pay to be close to Central Park! And, as long as we are going to Manhattan we might as well stay close to Central Park! Right? Location, location, location (happily divided by 5, that is)!